Effective Discipline Techniques for 9-Year-Old Children

Behavior Management Strategies for Kids in Fourth Grade

These parenting strategies can be most effective for 9-year-old kids.
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Age 9 signals the start of the “tween years.” It's a transitional period between childhood and the teenage years that can be a bit awkward, and it can be a difficult time for kids—they’re no longer kids but aren’t yet teenagers.

It can be an awkward and difficult time for their parents, too. How can they effectively discipline at a time when most 9-year-olds crave freedom and independence, begin spending more time with friends, and start showing a little more interest in developing friendships with the opposite sex?

Typical 9-Year-Old Behavior

Most 9-year-olds want to have some of the privileges that come with being a teenager. They may want to trade their toys for a smartphone and they may prefer to play with friends away from their parents' earshot. But, they lack the skills to handle too much responsibility.

Their desire to have more responsibility can lead to conflict. They may be argumentative and 9-year-olds are known to beg and whine when they don't get their way.

By this age, however, they should have a good understanding of social norms. This can deter many behavior problems in public so they won't be seen acting out in front of their friends. Parents often get the brunt of bad behavior in the home.

Best Discipline Strategies for 9-Year-Olds

Disciplining 9-year-olds is about finding a way to delicately balance freedom with guidance. It's important to give your child the support she needs to make healthy choices, but it's equally important to give her opportunities to do things on her own, even if it means your child will fail sometimes.

Here are effective discipline strategies that work well with 9-year-olds.

1. Praise Good Behavior

Many tweens struggle to with self-image issues. They may be anxious about stressful situations and may worry about how others perceive them.

Provide genuine praise for your 9-year-old's efforts and you'll boost her confidence and use praise to encourage her to keep trying, study hard, and do her best.

2. Place Your Child in Time-Out

Send a 9-year-old to time out to help him cool off when he’s angry or when he needs to think about his actions. A 9-minute time-out is appropriate for a 9-year-old. Just be sure to use it sparingly, or it will lose its effectiveness.

And make it clear to your child that he has the option to put himself in time-out before he gets into trouble. If he's frustrated or upset, he can go to his room on his own before he does something that gets him into trouble.

3. Use Grandma's Rule of Discipline

Grandma’s rule of discipline is a great tool for 9-year-olds. By using a subtle change in the way you word something, you can turn a consequence into a reward.

So rather than say, "You can't go outside because your room is a mess," say, "You can play outside as soon as you finish cleaning your room." Then, your child will learn he has the ability to earn privileges based on his good choices.

4. Provide Logical Consequences

Logical consequences can be very effective with 9-year-olds. For example, if your 9-year-old doesn’t get off the computer when you told him to do so, take away his computer privileges for the next 24 hours.

He'll be more likely to make a better choice next time when the consequence is clearly linked to his misbehavior.

5. Allow for Natural Consequences

When it is safe to do so, allow for natural consequences. By age 9, most kids can connect the dots between their choices and the consequences.

So when it's cold outside, don't insist she wear a jacket. The natural consequence is she'll feel cold. And learning from her own mistakes could teach her important life lessons.

6. ​Create a Token Economy System

This is a great age for a token economy system as most 9-year-olds are very motivated to earn new privileges. A token economy system can be used to target specific behavioral issues and it can motivate your child to become more responsible.

Establish a simple token economy system that allows your child to earn chips or tokens for good behavior. Then, allow her to exchange those tokens for privileges, like time on her electronics or an opportunity to go on a special outing.

7. Problem-Solve Together

When your child exhibits specific behavior problems, sit down and problem-solve the issue together. By the age of 9, many kids can offer creative solutions and can be very honest about what would help resolve the problem.

So ask questions like, "This is the third time you've forgotten your homework. What would help you remember?" Then, work together to find strategies that can help your child improve.

A Word From Verywell

The early tween years are a critical time to start giving your child more responsibility. Expect him or her to be responsible and when they struggles, consider it an opportunity to teach them to do better next time.

You only have a few short years before your child will become a teen, so it's important to ensure that they have the life skills they're going to need to handle the responsibilities of being a teenager successfully.

Sources

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Discipline.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Middle Childhood (9-11 Years of Age).

Michigan State University Extension: 9- to 11-year-olds: Ages and stages of youth development.

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